We all deal with things in different ways. For many years now, I have believed in the notion that it’s not what happens to us that helps us grow, it’s how we choose to respond that makes the difference. It’s our responsibility; our ability to respond that determines whether or how soon we can find and welcome the gift in any given situation.
Billy Connolly Live In London
This weekend I was luck enough to see Billy Connolly live in London, in aid of Leukemia and Lymphoma Research. For those of you who may not have heard of him, Billy is a famous Scottish comedian – and an accomplished musician and actor to boot. Known as “The Big Yin” ('The Big One' in Scottish dialect) he works tirelessly for charities having endured a particularly difficult childhood himself. Billy is a big man with a big character and strong opinions. His language is hugely colourful (to put it politely!) and his humour is often a little on the dark or unusual side – he has a knack of taking his audience to places that they don’t really expect, and then having them falling about in hysterics as he continues with his wonderfully imagintive explanations. I bought the ticket because seeing Billy live was on my bucket-list, the things I’d like to experience while I’m here on this planet.
It was a wonderful experience. Not just because of his humour, but also because of a very serious message that Billy chose to share with the audience. Alan Yentob, the famous and hugely respected television producer, was interviewing him on stage, and he encouraged Billy to talk about his childhood. It is a well documented but not often discussed story of abandonment, neglect and abuse – physical, sexual and emotional. It’s a story about abject poverty. It’s about enduring a harsh life in some of the toughest areas of Scotland. It’s about survival – and ultimately it’s about the fulfilment of dreams.
Billy stood up at one point, clearly moved by his memories, and reached out to everyone in the theatre. Looking around the auditorium he seemed able to touch each one of us with his voice, with the look on his face, and with his open armed gesture.
“You may be surprised to learn” he told us “that there are many more people who have been through abuse than you might care to imagine. I’ll take a bet that if we asked every single member of this audience, the vast majority would understand what I am talking about” Barely perceptible head nodding started as soon as those words were out. The theatre went silent – as usual Billy had succeeded in shocking us. This time, though, it was not through his off-the-wall humour. This time it was because of his honesty. It was because of his willingness to share his story, and to reach out to others. This was a completely different side to “The Big Yin” and I felt immediately humbled. Just moments before I had been doubled up in my seat, sides aching with laughter as the tears rolled down my face. Now I was alert, straight faced, wide eyed, and incredulous about the way this incredible man was connecting with the audience.
Alan asked how he had possibly managed to overcome such hardships. How he had managed to endure the pain and indignity of his childhood to become a man who brings so much joy to so many people. Billy’s voice cracked a little at this point. He drew himself up taller and spoke to us all again.
Forgiveness And Encouragement
“I implore you – all of you – to embrace forgiveness” he explained, emotion clearly etched across his face “It works, it really does! It’s like getting rid of a whole sack full of heavy rocks that had been weighing you down. It’s wonderfully healing you know. It’s a marvellous experience. It frees you. And I recommend it – not just for anybody who has been through difficult times, but for all of us. For every single one of us”
He then also went on to explain how frustrated he still gets when he hears people talking about victims of any kind of abuse – particularly children. Explaining how adults know everything when you’re a child, he said how damaging it can be when the adults then compound their misery by giving the child an unconscious message that they can never get better
“Oh, the poor child. That’s it, his/her life is now ruined. They’ll never be able to get over that. That person/situation has taken away any chance they had of living a normal life”
My goodness – that resonated with me on so many levels I can hardly put it in to words. Not just because of some of the messages I received as a child, but also because of the way people misguidedly keep us in our suffering when we’ve gone through a period of ‘shift’. “Oh, I feel so sorry for you, you’ll never be able to love again” “I’ll bet you can never trust anyone now” “You must feel so stupid – you’re whole life is messed up!” Meant with the best of intention, messages like this (particularly to a child) can hold people in a mental prison. There may be no physical walls, but it doesn’t make it any easier to escape from the chains.
“Don’t tell the poor little b*****ds that they’re f*****d!” he cried, clenching his fists and gritting his teeth “Tell them that they’ll get through it! Tell them there’s a way! Tell them that this will pass, that there’s always hope, that they’ve got the power within them to make things good! Tell them to dream, to keep hope alive and to feel good about themselves! I did it – so can anybody else!”
When Billy stopped, the applause started. Quiet at the beginning (I was one of the first to applaud, as you may already have guessed) the whole theatre gradually built in to a crescendo of people all clapping their hands and nodding their heads. Once again I had tears rolling down my cheeks – this time because I had been deeply moved. I know I was not the only one.
I feel hugely privileged to have witnessed Billy Connolly in this particular way. It was a huge surprise for me – not in the least what I was expecting, but more rewarding that I could possibly have imagined.
It’s so true. When we believe we can, we do. When we know we’ll get through, we find a way. When we take one more step even when we think we can’t go any further, then miracles can occur. And when we encourage somebody else? Well, not only does it boost the other person, it gives us something positive at the same time.
There’s a friend of mine who often talks about “Random Acts Of Kindness” and his love of surprising people with good deeds. For me, I’ve learned that it’s hugely important that these gifts of love are not only given to others. I now understand that the more we ‘do’ Random Acts Of Kindness for ourselves, the better our world can become. And the better, as a result, we are able to radiate love and kindness to others as well.
The ticket to see Billy Connolly was, for me, a totally indulgent act of kindness to myself. The only ticket I could buy was a top price VIP ticket (it was the last seat in the theatre) and it also meant a flight to the UK and a stay in a hotel. Yes, it was a massive personal commitment of time and money from me to myself. Through that, though, I am now able to share this experience with all of you – well, it certainly justifies it for me!
So, yes, shift does happen. We all know that, and we all have plenty of it in our past and perhaps in our present as well – we may well feel at times that we’re “in the shift” more often that we’d like. So I’d like to finish this I post with a phrase I read today. It made me chuckle – I hope you’ll like it too
“Perhaps there are some areas of your life that could now do with some nurturing and some fertilisation?” it read “Just remember that the manure of your past can help grow a more fruitful future. What are you waiting for? What are you going to grow now?”
Love and blessings to all